It's a Setup
As with most things that pertain to teaching, the planning part is the most critical. I know…I know…you hate to plan…you already know the content…you basically have an idea of how you’d like to teach it…and your classroom teaching is more important than the planning, right? Well, in the many years that I’ve taught students and teachers, I’ve found that planning is the most significant aspect of effective instruction.
I like to associate the practice of teaching to a stage performance. You may not need as many rehearsals as a Broadway show, but significant planning is still necessary for any effective lesson, activity, or educational experience.
So, what are the basic steps in setting up your classroom for success?
3 SIMPLE STEPS TO PLAN FOR EFFECTIVE INSTRUCTION…
STEP 1: PLAN THE LESSON or ACTIVITY.
This may seem self-explanatory but you need to plan the primary activity or instruction that’s going to highlight the major aspects of the content you’re going to teach. Are you going to model how integers are applicable to the real world? Do you want to exemplify the best methods for data analyses? Are you planning to highlight the relationship between various algorithms? Regardless of the concept or skill you’re planning to address, you need to finalize that topic and plan the activity and/or instruction you believe would best exemplify it.
This is your instructional script.
STEP 2: IDENTIFY AND OBTAIN THE RESOURCES.
Most effective lessons require some type of logistical coordination which includes resources. Would it be best to use concrete manipulatives…virtual manipulatives…chart paper…laptops…websites…etc.? Do you have access to these materials? And if you do, are they easily accessible? For example, if you need to use laptops or tablets, are they easily and immediately available in your classroom? Identifying the resources you need for your lesson…and ensuring they’re available for your lesson…are critical aspects of your instruction.
These are your instructional props.
STEP 3: SET UP THE ROOM CONFIGURATION.
Ahhhhhhh…this is the part that many like to skip but few can afford to. This is when you consider the manner in which the lesson will unfold. Are the students working with a partner or group? Will they need to move around the room to access various tools? What is the best location for the materials be distributed or obtained efficiently? For example, if you plan to have students design paper airplanes, test their designs, and discuss the mathematical aspects of their designs, you will need a very different configuration than if you plan to have students engage in synchronous online collaboration. This aspect of planning may not seem very important but I’ve seen many speciously well-planned lessons quickly disintegrate because the planning for classroom configuration was ineffective or non-existent. For your best instruction to occur, this is critical.
This is your instructional blocking.
Setting up your instruction and planning accordingly significantly impact the effectiveness of your lesson. For your performance to go well, you need a good script, helpful props, and thoughtful blocking. Now, you’re ready to teach!